On doubt and negative space…

Crescent Beach, oil painting by Roger Vincent Jasaitis, copyright 2007, RVJart.com
Crescent Beach

Do you ever have doubts about something that you believe in? Doubt is such a troubling concept to think about. It makes us feel uncomfortable and challenged. Most Quakers (and some other religions) believe in the concept of continuing revelation of the Truth. This is a concept that I think most people in general would agree with. Think of the idea of slavery for example. Do you or anyone that you know believe that slavery is acceptable in any form? Yet at one time in America this was an accepted way of thinking for the majority of the population. It took over one hundred years for this view of morality to change, for the Truth that slavery is wrong to become accepted in society (even then some parts of society refused to change their beliefs on this). Change is ongoing, revelation of the Truth is ongoing.

So how does change unfold in the heart? Perhaps I can use the artistic metaphor of negative space to show how doubt may have a role to play. Negative space is a term used to describe the the space that surrounds the subject in a composition. Have you seen the optical illusion of a vase in silhouette? As you look at the illustration, all of a sudden, you notice that the negative space is two faces looking at each other. Most use of negative space in art is to support the main subject. Picture doubt as negative space in your heart and Truth the positive space.

How tightly do you hold your beliefs in your heart. Not just religious beliefs but also beliefs about morality and reality. Do you hold them so tightly that you leave no room for revelation to enter?  Do you have negative space in your heart to allow Truth to change and grow in?  Perhaps doubt can function as space in your heart. After all, you can find examples of most religious figures and philosophers having doubts about their beliefs throughout history. In most cases it is the impetus for change and spiritual growth.